I’ve mentioned before that my family is one that loves theatre and how we try to see a production at least once a year, but usually more. We already saw The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto earlier this year, and our next big musical was The Rocky Horror Show at Stratford. I can’t remember when we found out that Rocky Horror was coming, only that we were surprised it was. The Stratford Festival has a pretty high reputation for shows, focusing a lot on Shakespeare (obviously) and more classic plays and musicals. They still do modern shows and productions, but it’s a more professional quality, a higher caliber, so seeing Rocky Horror as one of the musicals for the season was odd. Because it’s Rocky Horror, and that’s not exactly high theatre.
I love The Rocky Horror Picture Show so when I say it isn’t high theatre it’s not as an insult, it’s just kind of the truth. The movie is a joke and homage to B movies, the plot is just weird and strange, but the whole thing is charming in it’s strangeness, unforgettable and addicting. And it’s incredibly raunchy and sexual, so I had a hard time understanding why Stratford chose it for their season when it was a show that really doesn’t fit with what Stratford tries to achieve(or maybe it does, Shakespeare can be pretty raunchy after all). I remember reading the announcement of the show on the Stratford Festival’s website, trying to see when tickets were available, and a bit of text declaring that no shouting back or talking during the performance. This may seem like a piece of normal theatre etiquette (I’ve gotten annoyed at people talking during theatre performances before) but Rocky Horror is a special case. During shadow casts of the show, it’s very common for audience members to dress up and talk back to certain lines in the show (usually making them dirty…er). It’s in the culture of the show, and while there is a difference between a shadow cast and live performance, to cut out the talk back for a live performance seemed an impossible task.
Still, my family and I were excited to see the musical. We bought our tickets in late August, surprised to see that the show had been extended to November (now December!) and that even then a lot of the seats in the Avon Theatre were taken. After the stressful couple of months we’ve had, we only remembered we were seeing The Rocky Horror Show a few weeks before and started to plan what we were doing on our trip to the show.
We saw it yesterday (November 4th) and got to Stratford early so we could look around the shops around the theatre, grab a snack before the show, and before we knew it get ready for the show. We paid a bit extra for the Partici…PATION package which included little goodies to use at certain points during the show, which surprised me because I thought Stratford had pretty much no’d it, but was happy to see the change. The package was cute and included a bag, handkerchief, glow stick, and lip sucker. No toast, but I didn’t expect any, I don’t think the actors would have appreciated having toast thrown at them. We also sat next to people who were dressed up, and I was excited to see how people were already having fun with the show before it even started.
And what can I say? This production was fantastic! Every single person on stage was talented, no one outranking anyone else. The costumes were dazzling, the singing beautiful, the set amazing to look at. And they did the talk back! I don’t know if they did have some people planted in the audience with certain cues, it seemed like it at some point with how loud the responses were, but others seemed more surprising and improvised (including a hilarious Justin Bieber joke). I loved that the actors were playing along with the audience, with the show, and seemed to be enjoying the whole performance considering they’ve been doing this for nearly six months!
Overall, The Rocky Horror Show is one of the best shows I’ve seen at Stratford. I loved seeing Stratford take a risk and a break from their normal routine and put in a show that’s purely fun, that literally anyone can enjoy. I’m so excited to see how Stratford will grow in the future, and I’ll see you next season for Little Shop of Horrors!
(Picture taken at the Avon Theatre in Stratford, ON and posted on my sister’s Instagram story WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!!!)
(If you want to see The Rocky Horror Show, because you should, get your tickets here!)